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Helping MI Teens Make A Tough Transition In Life

June 16, 2008

Mt. Pleasant, MI – Such skills as creating a budget, cooking dinner, and buying a car are the kinds of life lessons that may be lacking for Michigan kids who've grown up in foster care. But this week, they're meeting for a crash course on those topics and more.

The goal of the "Michigan Teen Conference" at Central Michigan University is to help hundreds of young people make the transition from foster care to living on their own go smoothly. Laura Mitchell with Lutheran Social Services is among the conference organizers; she says there also will be opportunities to learn about careers and colleges.

"Hopefully, they'll take that information and be inspired by something they have learned, to plant the seed for future growth or involvement in a career in that area."

In addition to the practical lessons, she says, there are emotional benefits to the get-together. The group wants teens "aging out" of foster care to understand that they are not alone.

"A big part of the conference is the connection that youth have and the support they feel, because they're with other teens who are in their same situation."

The conference is organized as a "walk through life." Attendees can stop at information stations about education, employment, and getting proper identification. They'll learn about making major purchases, such as vehicles, insurance, housing - and how to finance it all. Kids in foster care, Mitchell explains, sometimes miss out on the advice about these all-important topics that often comes from parents and other family members.

The conference sponsor, the Michigan Federation for Children and Families has information about the conference on its Web site: http://michfed.org. Interested teens can register on location.

Jim Mishler/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MI